How to Set a Proper Table for Passover
Designing a tablescape for any formal dinner is your opportunity to create a welcoming and festive atmosphere for your guests, but setting the table for Passover also requires the inclusion of essential ceremonial elements. During the 15 steps of the Seder, guests eat six specific foods representing parts of the Jewish Exodus story—roasted egg, bitter herb, lettuce, shank bone, parsley, and a mix of apples, nuts, and spices—served from a divided platter, as well as matzoh and wine (all in addition to the main course itself). Make sure your meal runs smoothly with these table-setting tips from Liz Curtis of Table and Teaspoon.
Seder Plate Spotlight
"The most critical piece of your Passover Seder table is your Seder plate, because of all that it represents," says Curtis. "This will be the centerpiece of your Passover table, so pick a plate or platter that represents your aesthetic: anything from fine china and polished silver platters to modern stoneware works, as long as there is space for the six ceremonial dishes. Match your choice for the Seder plate to the smaller plates you use for matzo for a cohesive look."
Meal-Appropriate Place Settings
The specific plates and flatware you include at each place setting should correspond to the meal you plan to serve (should you make brisket, for example, you will need to add cutting knives into the mix), but you will need to include a glass (or glasses) for the four cups of wine poured during the ceremony—plus an extra glass for the wine ceremonially poured for the prophet Elijah. Include a Haggadah, the text laying out the order of the Seder, at each place setting.(You can follow a traditional script, or customize your own.)
Personalized Table Details
Candles are part of most formal tablescapes, but at the Seder, they're also part of the ceremony. "You will be using candles for your Seder, so place at least a pair of them on your table near a match strike," says Curtis. Linens, runners, and other elegant accents can vary from year to year and host to host. "A table runner or cloth and napkins provide another place for your individual style to shine," says Curtis. "While simplicity and a white color scheme is the norm, feel free to pick textiles that mirror your fashion sense so that your guests immediately recognize the table as your own." And since Passover occurs in early spring, lean into the season with centerpieces full of fresh flowers. "Given the sheer number of pieces required to fill your table for the ceremony, consider using smaller bud vases with one or two stems per vase," notes Curtis.